Grandparenting Experiences Among Adults with a History of Depression

A Mixed-Methods Study

Published in: General Hospital Psychiatry, v. 37, no. 2, Mar.-Apr. 2015, p. 185-191

Posted on RAND.org on March 10, 2015

by Adriana Izquierdo, Jeanne Miranda, Elizabeth Bromley, Cathy D. Sherbourne, Gery W. Ryan, David P. Kennedy, Kenneth B. Wells

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OBJECTIVE: Grandparenting is an important social role, but how adults with a history of depression experience grandparenting is unknown; we describe grandparenting experiences reported by an ethnically diverse sample of adults with a history of depression. METHOD: Mixed-methods study using semistructured interviews of adults at 10-year follow-up and quantitative data collected over 9 years from 280 systematically sampled participants from a longitudinal, multisite trial of quality-improvement interventions for depressed primary care patients; of 280, 110 reported noncustodial grandparenting experiences. RESULTS: Of 110 adults reporting grandparenting experiences, 90 (82%) reported any positive experience such as special joy; 57 (52%) reported any stressful experience such as separation; and 27 (34%) reported mixed experiences. Adults with chronic or recent depression were significantly more likely than their respective counterparts to report any stressful experience (P<0.05). There was no significant association between depression status and reporting a positive experience. CONCLUSION(S): Grandparenting was a highly salient and positive experience as reported by ethnically diverse adults 10 years after being identified as depressed in primary care. Depression status was associated with reporting stressful but not positive experiences. Specific themes underlying positive and stressful experiences may have implications for developing strategies to enhance quality of life for adults with a history of depression who are grandparents.

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